Day: October 15, 2017

Palestinian Reconciliation: To What End?


After weeks of Egyptian-sponsored pre-talks, and a very short “cabinet meeting” in Gaza, “formal reconciliation talks” are now being held between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (P.A. or Fatah) in Cairo under the direct auspices of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

For some Middle East-watchers, the talks are a form of progress.  There are presently three functional governments between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and this is about getting rid of one of them.  Progress here is that Israel is not the government they’re talking about getting rid of.  Yet.  This is about whether Hamas or Fatah will lead the Palestinians – whether to peace with Israel or to war with Israel is less important for them right now than simply who between them is top dog.

The factions are “optimistic,” according to Palestinian sources in Cairo.  To the extent they are, Israel and the West should be worried, because what they agree on is that Jewish sovereignty is illegitimate.  What they don’t agree on is who gets the bigger army.  Scylla here is an 83-year-old despotic kleptocrat whose administration has impoverished and radicalized the people of the West Bank while begging protection from Israel against Charybdis – a terror organization that has impoverished and radicalized the people of Gaza.  

Most of the world – the United States included – simply assumes that the legitimate party is Fatah.  Hamas assumes no such thing.  In the last Palestinian election (2006 if you’re counting), Hamas won 76 of the 132 legislative seats; Fatah won 43.  Hamas should have been allowed to form the cabinet, but the legislature was never seated – in part because Israel and the United States didn’t want Hamas in the government any more than Fatah did.  But it was, in fact, the result of the last thing that passed for a general election.  The short, brutal civil war came in 2007.  Mahmoud Abbas’s term as president expired in 2009.

Hamas claims that it will turn the civil administration over to Fatah but insists that it will hold on to its army (25,000 fighters of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades) in what it calls a “Lebanon solution,” a private militia outside the government.  Hamas leader Ismayil Haniyeh told Egyptian television, “There are two groups of weapons. There are the weapons of the government, the police and security services[.] … And there are the weapons of resistance. Regarding the weapons of the resistance, as long as there is a Zionist occupation on Palestinian land, it is the right of the Palestinian people to possess weapons and resist the occupation in all of forms of resistance.” 

P.A. president Mahmoud Abbas firmly rejected the Hamas proposal.  “I will not accept or copy or reproduce the Hezb’allah example in Lebanon. Everything must be in the hands of the Palestinian Authority.”  His great fear is Hamas demanding that security cooperation between Fatah and the IDF, which protects the P.A., cease – leaving the field clear for a Hamas military takeover on the West Bank.  That is Israel’s nightmare as well.

Other than the threat of a military victory, Hamas holds few actual cards.  Egypt keeps the Rafah border crossing in Gaza mostly closed as a means of keeping Hamas from joining forces with ISIS and other jihadist elements in the Sinai.  Qatar has reduced its funding, and Iran has not made up the difference.

The P.A., on the other hand, is the recipient of international largesse – European, American, NGOs, etc.  It is supposed to use the money for all the Palestinians, including paying Gaza government officials and workers, paying utility bills to Israel, paying teachers, etc.  But it uses it instead to assert authority.

After the 2007 war, 70,000 P.A. employees in the Gaza Strip lost their jobs, but they remained on the P.A. payroll; many haven’t been to work since.  Recently, the P.A. cut the salaries of its own people in Gaza by 30 percent, hoping they would pressure Hamas.  In April, the P.A. stopped paying for Gaza’s electricity, resulting in shortages over the summer that simply made miserable people more miserable.

If Abbas wanted to strong-arm Hamas, he failed.  Despite its apparently superior position, the electricity is back on, and the P.A. won no decisive battle against Hamas.  It will now try to win in negotiations what it couldn’t manipulate on the ground.

But while they try, keep in mind that a victory for Scylla is not a victory.  The 70-nation Paris Peace Conference in January included in its final communiqué a scathing indictment of the P.A., noting that after 24 years of self-rule, it lacked “the infrastructure for a viable Palestinian economy” and had no capacity for “service delivery” and inadequate “civil society fora.”  To birth “Palestine” under the circumstances would be to birth South Sudan – a failed state for its own people and a chaotic one for the rest of us. 

After weeks of Egyptian-sponsored pre-talks, and a very short “cabinet meeting” in Gaza, “formal reconciliation talks” are now being held between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (P.A. or Fatah) in Cairo under the direct auspices of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

For some Middle East-watchers, the talks are a form of progress.  There are presently three functional governments between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and this is about getting rid of one of them.  Progress here is that Israel is not the government they’re talking about getting rid of.  Yet.  This is about whether Hamas or Fatah will lead the Palestinians – whether to peace with Israel or to war with Israel is less important for them right now than simply who between them is top dog.

The factions are “optimistic,” according to Palestinian sources in Cairo.  To the extent they are, Israel and the West should be worried, because what they agree on is that Jewish sovereignty is illegitimate.  What they don’t agree on is who gets the bigger army.  Scylla here is an 83-year-old despotic kleptocrat whose administration has impoverished and radicalized the people of the West Bank while begging protection from Israel against Charybdis – a terror organization that has impoverished and radicalized the people of Gaza.  

Most of the world – the United States included – simply assumes that the legitimate party is Fatah.  Hamas assumes no such thing.  In the last Palestinian election (2006 if you’re counting), Hamas won 76 of the 132 legislative seats; Fatah won 43.  Hamas should have been allowed to form the cabinet, but the legislature was never seated – in part because Israel and the United States didn’t want Hamas in the government any more than Fatah did.  But it was, in fact, the result of the last thing that passed for a general election.  The short, brutal civil war came in 2007.  Mahmoud Abbas’s term as president expired in 2009.

Hamas claims that it will turn the civil administration over to Fatah but insists that it will hold on to its army (25,000 fighters of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades) in what it calls a “Lebanon solution,” a private militia outside the government.  Hamas leader Ismayil Haniyeh told Egyptian television, “There are two groups of weapons. There are the weapons of the government, the police and security services[.] … And there are the weapons of resistance. Regarding the weapons of the resistance, as long as there is a Zionist occupation on Palestinian land, it is the right of the Palestinian people to possess weapons and resist the occupation in all of forms of resistance.” 

P.A. president Mahmoud Abbas firmly rejected the Hamas proposal.  “I will not accept or copy or reproduce the Hezb’allah example in Lebanon. Everything must be in the hands of the Palestinian Authority.”  His great fear is Hamas demanding that security cooperation between Fatah and the IDF, which protects the P.A., cease – leaving the field clear for a Hamas military takeover on the West Bank.  That is Israel’s nightmare as well.

Other than the threat of a military victory, Hamas holds few actual cards.  Egypt keeps the Rafah border crossing in Gaza mostly closed as a means of keeping Hamas from joining forces with ISIS and other jihadist elements in the Sinai.  Qatar has reduced its funding, and Iran has not made up the difference.

The P.A., on the other hand, is the recipient of international largesse – European, American, NGOs, etc.  It is supposed to use the money for all the Palestinians, including paying Gaza government officials and workers, paying utility bills to Israel, paying teachers, etc.  But it uses it instead to assert authority.

After the 2007 war, 70,000 P.A. employees in the Gaza Strip lost their jobs, but they remained on the P.A. payroll; many haven’t been to work since.  Recently, the P.A. cut the salaries of its own people in Gaza by 30 percent, hoping they would pressure Hamas.  In April, the P.A. stopped paying for Gaza’s electricity, resulting in shortages over the summer that simply made miserable people more miserable.

If Abbas wanted to strong-arm Hamas, he failed.  Despite its apparently superior position, the electricity is back on, and the P.A. won no decisive battle against Hamas.  It will now try to win in negotiations what it couldn’t manipulate on the ground.

But while they try, keep in mind that a victory for Scylla is not a victory.  The 70-nation Paris Peace Conference in January included in its final communiqué a scathing indictment of the P.A., noting that after 24 years of self-rule, it lacked “the infrastructure for a viable Palestinian economy” and had no capacity for “service delivery” and inadequate “civil society fora.”  To birth “Palestine” under the circumstances would be to birth South Sudan – a failed state for its own people and a chaotic one for the rest of us. 



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Harvey Weinstein Proves Why the Left Really Hates Trump


Chalk up the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal as one of the most unsurprising big media stories of the modern era.  It’s like when a magazine run by liberals and devoted to promoting and encouraging the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” lifestyle flubs a story about campus rape.  (And subsequently – and quite deservedly – gets sued into near oblivion.)  In other words, almost no one should be surprised that a big-time Hollywood producer and film studio executive such as Harvey Weinstein is a sexual miscreant.

If you want to find a “rape culture,” look no farther than Tinseltown.  Hollywood is littered with men – and women – who are sexual predators and provocateurs ready and willing to take advantage of most anyone and any situation in order to satisfy their lust and greed.  People who have no qualms about filling their movies and television shows with smut are also prone to filling their personal lives with smut.

I can think of no culture, no industry, no group of people less qualified to lecture anyone – especially the culture at large – about sexual immorality than the depraved, sex-crazed deviants that permeate Hollywood, USA.  The smug Jimmy Kimmel – whose early claim to fame was as the co-host of Comedy Central’s trashy The Man Show – should get nowhere near a compass of any sort, and especially not a “moral compass.”  Likewise, most every well known Hollywood actor, actress, producer, director, et al. has played a role in corrupting the sexual mores of America.

Thus, when these “nasty” Hollywood harlots, gigolos, pimps, perverts, and like-minded stooges in the general public (thank God, an electoral minority – for now!) don their vagina hats and Antifa masks and start howling about the sexual misconduct of President Trump – or any other politician or pundit of whom they disapprove (read: Christian, conservative, or Republican) – we know it’s not really the sexual immorality that troubles them.

In spite of the claims of Hillary Clinton and her ilk, nothing President Trump has done in the sexual realm runs afoul of the sexual standards presented by Hollywood – which are the sexual standards of liberalism.  It’s not what President Trump “has said about women” – like many of us, in his worst moments he sounds like one corrupted by liberalism – that sets liberal snowflakes to melting.  Rather, it’s the threat that conservatism and Christianity present to their selfish, hedonistic lifestyles that really terrifies these Hollywood hypocrites.

Craving the power that big government affords them – and with little to no qualms about any perceived (or real) hypocrisy – these liberals take every opportunity presented them to go after Republican politicians – especially the president.  Joy Behar recently explained this quite well when discussing Republican U.S. representative Tim Murphy.  Murphy, from Pennsylvania and a member of the U.S. House Pro-Life Caucus, was caught encouraging his mistress to get an abortion.  He is resigning next month, as well he should.

Addressing her aghast audience, Behar attempted to explain how Democrats like herself don’t have a hypocrisy problem when complaining about the behavior of men like Tim Murphy.  As she tellingly revealed, “the difference between me and the people who voted for [Murphy] is the Democrats are not the family of values[.] … They’re not hypocrites – they’re just dogs.  You see the difference?”  Yeah, we got it.  According to Behar’s liberal logic, it’s better to be a reliably immoral “dog” than a hypocrite.

Yet, in their TV monologues, protests, talk shows, political speeches, tweets, posts, and so on, as they attack President Trump and court the American electorate, liberals aren’t presenting themselves as “dogs.”  Far from it.  As they continue the Obama mission of remaking America into a nation our Founders would not recognize, the modern American left presents itself as wise, rational, reasonable, and compassionate.  Leftists brazenly tell us they have the solutions we crave if only we would give them the power to act.

As long as President Trump acts on conservative – especially Christian conservative – principles, he is undermining the left’s agenda and reminds them that, at least to some extent, they are losing their grip on the American culture.  Thus, he must be politically destroyed.

Andrew Breitbart often declared that politics is downstream from culture.  If this is to be believed, then the last decade has seen the culture – at least the voting culture – slip from the hands of the modern left.  In addition to the federal courts, the U.S. presidency was the last firm grip liberals had on power in D.C., and until about 9 p.m. on November 8, 2016, they were quite sure they were going to control at least the executive branch of the U.S. government.  When this was lost, an angry despair set in, one that has rarely let up since.

The more Trump appoints sound conservative judges and officials, the more he works at repealing Obamacare and building a wall, the more tax money he keeps out of the hands of abortionists, the more religious liberty is restored – the more the federal government operates according to the laws of the Law Giver, the more President Trump and his allies will be vilified and attacked.

Trevor Grant Thomas: At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America.
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Chalk up the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal as one of the most unsurprising big media stories of the modern era.  It’s like when a magazine run by liberals and devoted to promoting and encouraging the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” lifestyle flubs a story about campus rape.  (And subsequently – and quite deservedly – gets sued into near oblivion.)  In other words, almost no one should be surprised that a big-time Hollywood producer and film studio executive such as Harvey Weinstein is a sexual miscreant.

If you want to find a “rape culture,” look no farther than Tinseltown.  Hollywood is littered with men – and women – who are sexual predators and provocateurs ready and willing to take advantage of most anyone and any situation in order to satisfy their lust and greed.  People who have no qualms about filling their movies and television shows with smut are also prone to filling their personal lives with smut.

I can think of no culture, no industry, no group of people less qualified to lecture anyone – especially the culture at large – about sexual immorality than the depraved, sex-crazed deviants that permeate Hollywood, USA.  The smug Jimmy Kimmel – whose early claim to fame was as the co-host of Comedy Central’s trashy The Man Show – should get nowhere near a compass of any sort, and especially not a “moral compass.”  Likewise, most every well known Hollywood actor, actress, producer, director, et al. has played a role in corrupting the sexual mores of America.

Thus, when these “nasty” Hollywood harlots, gigolos, pimps, perverts, and like-minded stooges in the general public (thank God, an electoral minority – for now!) don their vagina hats and Antifa masks and start howling about the sexual misconduct of President Trump – or any other politician or pundit of whom they disapprove (read: Christian, conservative, or Republican) – we know it’s not really the sexual immorality that troubles them.

In spite of the claims of Hillary Clinton and her ilk, nothing President Trump has done in the sexual realm runs afoul of the sexual standards presented by Hollywood – which are the sexual standards of liberalism.  It’s not what President Trump “has said about women” – like many of us, in his worst moments he sounds like one corrupted by liberalism – that sets liberal snowflakes to melting.  Rather, it’s the threat that conservatism and Christianity present to their selfish, hedonistic lifestyles that really terrifies these Hollywood hypocrites.

Craving the power that big government affords them – and with little to no qualms about any perceived (or real) hypocrisy – these liberals take every opportunity presented them to go after Republican politicians – especially the president.  Joy Behar recently explained this quite well when discussing Republican U.S. representative Tim Murphy.  Murphy, from Pennsylvania and a member of the U.S. House Pro-Life Caucus, was caught encouraging his mistress to get an abortion.  He is resigning next month, as well he should.

Addressing her aghast audience, Behar attempted to explain how Democrats like herself don’t have a hypocrisy problem when complaining about the behavior of men like Tim Murphy.  As she tellingly revealed, “the difference between me and the people who voted for [Murphy] is the Democrats are not the family of values[.] … They’re not hypocrites – they’re just dogs.  You see the difference?”  Yeah, we got it.  According to Behar’s liberal logic, it’s better to be a reliably immoral “dog” than a hypocrite.

Yet, in their TV monologues, protests, talk shows, political speeches, tweets, posts, and so on, as they attack President Trump and court the American electorate, liberals aren’t presenting themselves as “dogs.”  Far from it.  As they continue the Obama mission of remaking America into a nation our Founders would not recognize, the modern American left presents itself as wise, rational, reasonable, and compassionate.  Leftists brazenly tell us they have the solutions we crave if only we would give them the power to act.

As long as President Trump acts on conservative – especially Christian conservative – principles, he is undermining the left’s agenda and reminds them that, at least to some extent, they are losing their grip on the American culture.  Thus, he must be politically destroyed.

Andrew Breitbart often declared that politics is downstream from culture.  If this is to be believed, then the last decade has seen the culture – at least the voting culture – slip from the hands of the modern left.  In addition to the federal courts, the U.S. presidency was the last firm grip liberals had on power in D.C., and until about 9 p.m. on November 8, 2016, they were quite sure they were going to control at least the executive branch of the U.S. government.  When this was lost, an angry despair set in, one that has rarely let up since.

The more Trump appoints sound conservative judges and officials, the more he works at repealing Obamacare and building a wall, the more tax money he keeps out of the hands of abortionists, the more religious liberty is restored – the more the federal government operates according to the laws of the Law Giver, the more President Trump and his allies will be vilified and attacked.

Trevor Grant Thomas: At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America.
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com



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Mexico's Day of the Dead Takes Over Halloween


It’s practically official: The truly unique American Halloween experience has been forced to incorporate the Mexican Day of the Dead.  Elite globalists made a decision somewhere, somebody flipped a switch, and 2017 sees the dawn of the Day of the Dead in America.  Also known as “Dia de los Muertos,” it’s suddenly appearing in decorations, costumes, candy, magazine covers, games and any other place it can be crammed down our throats.  I’m sure some people in Southern states are aware of this holiday, but this year it’s been commercialized across the country.  I can personally confirm that Day of the Dead decorations have made it to stores near the Canadian border; leaving many hillbilly New Yorkers scratching their heads at the flowers and sugar skulls spilling off their local Halloween shelves.



 

There’s always going to be the puritan Christians who maintain that participation in any Halloween activity will send one straight to the devil.  However, I think everyone can agree there are many different roots to what grew into one of America’s biggest holidays.  (The National Retail Federation predicts we’ll spend a record $9.1 billion on Halloween festivities this year.)

Whatever it may have grown into, the Halloween fright night Americans came to know and love never involved anything even close to human sacrifices, or any solid belief in keeping departed souls scared off or welcoming others.  It’s good enough to say, as this article does, that: “The book Every Day’s a Holiday accurately observes that Halloween “probably combines more folk customs the world around than will ever be sorted out, catalogued and traced to their sources.”

That sums it up.  To me, Halloween was nothing more than a fun concoction with elements of the Brothers Grimm, a few old wives tales and certainly some pagan roots.  And pagan roots there must be to everything due to the fact that they were here first.  Painstakingly tracing pagan roots for every modern day celebration, in my humble opinion, leads one down a rabbit hole.

To the average American, Halloween has mostly been a childhood tradition of carving pumpkins, hanging spooky pictures, dressing in costumes and going door-to-door to collect candy.  If there was anything evil to that — most of us were none the wiser; and that simple truth left us innocent, happy, and unqualified to be condemned in any Judeo-Christian dictum for worshiping the golden calf.

If we are to adopt the Day of the Dead, (since the ‘forced globalization powers that be’ seem to be thrusting it upon us); we must now take our children to Grandpa’s grave and build an altar to him on November 2.  We must spend days baking and creating skeletons in a ton of different ways — in fabric, plastic, statues, dolls, face paint and edible sugar skulls.  These we place on Grandpa’s grave with a ton of flowers.  We put a picture of Grandpa on the altar.  We know he doesn’t look like the Grandpa we remember however; he’s just a skull and bones lying under that dirt now.  What a great way to remember him…to remember all our loved ones who’ve passed away.  We leave flower petals and light candles to guide Grandpa to his worm-infested tomb, because we really believe he’s coming back there for a visit.  We then take all the sweets and goodies (and crunchy grasshoppers) off Grandpa’s grave and eat them by candlelight; wash them down with a swig of tequila and dance.  They say it’s a beautiful thing.  (For some reason Shirley Jacksons’ The Monkey’s Paw comes to mind.)

It is the spiritual aspect of this I find most disturbing.  Building altars for the dead in order to lure them back for a visit is antithetic to traditional American Judeo-Christian beliefs.  One has to believe that this big push is part of a larger multicultural aim to erase the lines of our traditional belief system and smudge it into a nice globalist multi-colored blur.

From a Brain Games book to spandex leggings – you can click on this gallery of pictures of Day of the Dead merchandise in my area.  Even this month’s cover of Better Homes & Gardens implores you to “Celebrate the Day of the Dead.”  Inside they tell us the holiday is “finding new life north of the border” with its “vibrant decorations and seriously delicious food.”  It urges us to “bring a little passion” to our next party and learn about its traditions.  PBS host Pati Jinich explains “Sugar skulls defy death.  They take sadness and make it sweet.”  One page adorned only with skull-pierced cocktails explains how the celebration on Nov. 1 & 2 “has its origins in ancient Aztec times and ties in with All Saints Day and All Souls Day.”  Tying it into the Catholic Church apparently gives it the green light.

But the Day of the Dead is not All Saints Day or All Souls Day; and it’s not Halloween, and never will be.  Well, I may be wrong on that: I doubt an overtly secular society which reveres its zombie parties, video games and flesh-eating, blood-spattered cult culture will revolt against a “new” holiday that so fully embraces the death it already craves.

Promotion of the holiday began in 2008 when UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage” took effect.  Mexico’s “Indigenous festivity dedicated to the dead” was recognized for “the transitory return to Earth of deceased relatives and loved ones…Families facilitate the return of the souls to Earth by laying flower petals, candles and offerings along the path leading from the cemetery to their homes.”  Their statement continues:

This encounter between the living and the dead affirms the role of the individual within society and contributes to reinforcing the political and social status of Mexico’s indigenous communities… The fusion of pre-Hispanic religious rites and Catholic feasts brings together two universes, one marked by indigenous belief systems, the other by worldviews introduced by the Europeans in the sixteenth century.

At this point, things are starting to sound a little muddled.

UNESCO’s recognition came before the 2015 James Bond film, “Spectre.”  Filmed in Mexico City, the opening scene shows the villain running through a parade of skeleton-clad revelers.  In 2016, Mexico City had a not so indigenous first-ever parade, claiming the film inspired them to promote tourism with “floats, giant marionettes and hundreds of dancers and performers.”

Google Mexico produced “Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life” last year as a type of promotional video to educate us that the celebration was “breaking borders and gaining the attention of people worldwide.”

The unstated goal surely must be that by the time Walmart has a sugar skull on every table in America under the pretext of “Halloween,” we’ll realize we have much more in common with Mexico than a love of tamales.  We will feel the deeper spiritual connection and realize we are all one people with one heart and one faith — living in one borderless global village.  It might even help us Share the Journey of the legal and illegal immigrant, as we are conditioned to accept anyone who crosses our border with open arms and no walls.  It’s a win-win for everyone; at least that’s what the sugar skull told me.

It’s practically official: The truly unique American Halloween experience has been forced to incorporate the Mexican Day of the Dead.  Elite globalists made a decision somewhere, somebody flipped a switch, and 2017 sees the dawn of the Day of the Dead in America.  Also known as “Dia de los Muertos,” it’s suddenly appearing in decorations, costumes, candy, magazine covers, games and any other place it can be crammed down our throats.  I’m sure some people in Southern states are aware of this holiday, but this year it’s been commercialized across the country.  I can personally confirm that Day of the Dead decorations have made it to stores near the Canadian border; leaving many hillbilly New Yorkers scratching their heads at the flowers and sugar skulls spilling off their local Halloween shelves.



 

There’s always going to be the puritan Christians who maintain that participation in any Halloween activity will send one straight to the devil.  However, I think everyone can agree there are many different roots to what grew into one of America’s biggest holidays.  (The National Retail Federation predicts we’ll spend a record $9.1 billion on Halloween festivities this year.)

Whatever it may have grown into, the Halloween fright night Americans came to know and love never involved anything even close to human sacrifices, or any solid belief in keeping departed souls scared off or welcoming others.  It’s good enough to say, as this article does, that: “The book Every Day’s a Holiday accurately observes that Halloween “probably combines more folk customs the world around than will ever be sorted out, catalogued and traced to their sources.”

That sums it up.  To me, Halloween was nothing more than a fun concoction with elements of the Brothers Grimm, a few old wives tales and certainly some pagan roots.  And pagan roots there must be to everything due to the fact that they were here first.  Painstakingly tracing pagan roots for every modern day celebration, in my humble opinion, leads one down a rabbit hole.

To the average American, Halloween has mostly been a childhood tradition of carving pumpkins, hanging spooky pictures, dressing in costumes and going door-to-door to collect candy.  If there was anything evil to that — most of us were none the wiser; and that simple truth left us innocent, happy, and unqualified to be condemned in any Judeo-Christian dictum for worshiping the golden calf.

If we are to adopt the Day of the Dead, (since the ‘forced globalization powers that be’ seem to be thrusting it upon us); we must now take our children to Grandpa’s grave and build an altar to him on November 2.  We must spend days baking and creating skeletons in a ton of different ways — in fabric, plastic, statues, dolls, face paint and edible sugar skulls.  These we place on Grandpa’s grave with a ton of flowers.  We put a picture of Grandpa on the altar.  We know he doesn’t look like the Grandpa we remember however; he’s just a skull and bones lying under that dirt now.  What a great way to remember him…to remember all our loved ones who’ve passed away.  We leave flower petals and light candles to guide Grandpa to his worm-infested tomb, because we really believe he’s coming back there for a visit.  We then take all the sweets and goodies (and crunchy grasshoppers) off Grandpa’s grave and eat them by candlelight; wash them down with a swig of tequila and dance.  They say it’s a beautiful thing.  (For some reason Shirley Jacksons’ The Monkey’s Paw comes to mind.)

It is the spiritual aspect of this I find most disturbing.  Building altars for the dead in order to lure them back for a visit is antithetic to traditional American Judeo-Christian beliefs.  One has to believe that this big push is part of a larger multicultural aim to erase the lines of our traditional belief system and smudge it into a nice globalist multi-colored blur.

From a Brain Games book to spandex leggings – you can click on this gallery of pictures of Day of the Dead merchandise in my area.  Even this month’s cover of Better Homes & Gardens implores you to “Celebrate the Day of the Dead.”  Inside they tell us the holiday is “finding new life north of the border” with its “vibrant decorations and seriously delicious food.”  It urges us to “bring a little passion” to our next party and learn about its traditions.  PBS host Pati Jinich explains “Sugar skulls defy death.  They take sadness and make it sweet.”  One page adorned only with skull-pierced cocktails explains how the celebration on Nov. 1 & 2 “has its origins in ancient Aztec times and ties in with All Saints Day and All Souls Day.”  Tying it into the Catholic Church apparently gives it the green light.

But the Day of the Dead is not All Saints Day or All Souls Day; and it’s not Halloween, and never will be.  Well, I may be wrong on that: I doubt an overtly secular society which reveres its zombie parties, video games and flesh-eating, blood-spattered cult culture will revolt against a “new” holiday that so fully embraces the death it already craves.

Promotion of the holiday began in 2008 when UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage” took effect.  Mexico’s “Indigenous festivity dedicated to the dead” was recognized for “the transitory return to Earth of deceased relatives and loved ones…Families facilitate the return of the souls to Earth by laying flower petals, candles and offerings along the path leading from the cemetery to their homes.”  Their statement continues:

This encounter between the living and the dead affirms the role of the individual within society and contributes to reinforcing the political and social status of Mexico’s indigenous communities… The fusion of pre-Hispanic religious rites and Catholic feasts brings together two universes, one marked by indigenous belief systems, the other by worldviews introduced by the Europeans in the sixteenth century.

At this point, things are starting to sound a little muddled.

UNESCO’s recognition came before the 2015 James Bond film, “Spectre.”  Filmed in Mexico City, the opening scene shows the villain running through a parade of skeleton-clad revelers.  In 2016, Mexico City had a not so indigenous first-ever parade, claiming the film inspired them to promote tourism with “floats, giant marionettes and hundreds of dancers and performers.”

Google Mexico produced “Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life” last year as a type of promotional video to educate us that the celebration was “breaking borders and gaining the attention of people worldwide.”

The unstated goal surely must be that by the time Walmart has a sugar skull on every table in America under the pretext of “Halloween,” we’ll realize we have much more in common with Mexico than a love of tamales.  We will feel the deeper spiritual connection and realize we are all one people with one heart and one faith — living in one borderless global village.  It might even help us Share the Journey of the legal and illegal immigrant, as we are conditioned to accept anyone who crosses our border with open arms and no walls.  It’s a win-win for everyone; at least that’s what the sugar skull told me.



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Tax Amnesia and How to Fix It


Trump’s tax plan was enthusiastically accepted by the Republicans and got rejected by the Democrats.  No surprises; the tug of the tax rope is a favorite public activity in Washington.

Trump’s plan is a financial knockdown for states such as California, New York, and New Jersey.  These states have a traditional Democrat majority, and consequently, these states have the highest tax rates in the U.S.  According to Trump’s plan, the payment of these taxes will not be considered when calculating federal taxes.  Americans will have to pay taxes to the states in addition to, not instead of, the federal tax.  This will hit hardest, of course, in the states with the highest taxes.

These states are the bastions of leftists in the U.S. and voted against Trump.  If Trump’s plan is adopted, these states will be in a stressful financial condition.  The mass outflow of population from these states to the states with zero or small taxes (Florida, Texas) will accelerate, and the tax base of leftists will definitely decrease.

The long-term tax legacy in America is as such: the second and third items of the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx – the progressive tax and the inheritance tax – are fully and legally implemented.

Trump’s plan leaves the second item of the Communist Manifesto intact (a progressive tax with some modifications) but terminates the third item – the tax on inheritance.

Even now, few people think about why the tax rate in America is progressive – the more you earn, the higher the tax rate.  Progressive taxes have been around since ancient times, but only the Marxists thought of weaponizing them and making them a tool for the political struggle.  Today we use the phrase “progressive democrats” or “progressive humanity.”  However, the term “progressive” began from the idea of a progressive tax.  It had nothing to do with technological or social progress, but only with taxes.

Progressive taxes in the U.S. have progressed only in one direction – in the direction of increasing the polarization of society.  Bill Clinton’s tax reform led to the emergence of a negative tax rate unheard of in American history.  Currently, about 40% of Americans receive money from the federal government instead of paying.

As a result, the richest 10% of Americans pay 70% of all federal income taxes.  The poorest 50% pay only three percent of all federal taxes.  On the surface, a progressive tax on the rich looks like a simple mechanism for wealth redistribution.  But in fact, the progressive tax is a mechanism of conscious corruption of the population, which is forced to turn to the state for financial help.  It eventually becomes completely dependent – materially and spiritually – on the government.

The extreme level of progressive taxation in the U.S. leads to an artificial division of the nation into two classes: those who pay taxes and those who do not pay taxes.

What for?  Divide et impera – divide and conquer – a slogan that has been tested for centuries.  The slogan was inherited by the Washington senators from the senators of ancient Rome.  The slogan enables Washington to force two groups of Americans to fight each other. 

These two artificial groups of Americans are separated by a common Congress.

The idea of the inheritance tax is also borrowed by the “progressive” from ancient Rome.  Emperor Augustus introduced this tax to pay pensions to his soldiers.  Only the emperor could think of such a thing – to declare the property of a deceased Roman as the property of the state, but with the proviso that the relatives of the deceased can get it back by paying a new tax.  As in ancient Rome, today no one calls this tax anything other than a state racket.  It is not surprising that Marxists like this tax.

High taxes are also a form of a political state racket.

Politicians in all countries prefer high tax rates to gradually selling out to lobbyists the “exceptions to the rules” and create loopholes in tax legislation for companies or for entire industries.  As a result, in the U.S., there are almost no companies who pay a predatory 35% tax on profits.  The effective tax rate for most companies is much lower – about 20%.  It is the 20% tax on companies’ profits that is contained in Trump’s tax plan, which in addition to the lower tax rate eliminates all loopholes without exception.  The Trump concept leaves, of course, the Washington political election campaigns without its main source of corrupt financing.

This, in fact, is Trump’s strategic tax plan.  His plan eliminates one of the most odious and Marxist-favored taxes: the inheritance tax.  It leaves the progressive personal income tax to the delight of Marxist “progressive humanity.”  In return, it demands significantly lower corporate tax.

Trump’s plan is unlikely to radically improve the tax burden for most American citizens, but it will substantially revitalize the American economy and make it aggressively competitive on the global market.  The complete abolition of the tax loopholes will shrink the army of lobbyists and tax lawyers.  There is nothing catastrophic in this.  Taxes were lowered by Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush.  Each and every time, the American economy stood to win.

The progressive income tax has existed in our country for more than 100 years.  There is no one alive today who remembers what America was like without an income tax.  Four generations of Americans have grown up in the conditions of progressive taxation, and they do not even realize that the tax burden can be different.

The lie is that “the rich should bear the main burden of taxes.”

The truth is in Reagan’s wise words: “If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it.”

Increasing the tax on the rich means closing businesses and mass layoffs.  On the other hand, reducing the tax on the rich means increasing investment in production; reducing unemployment; increasing the tax base; and, as a result, increasing tax revenues.

What does America want?

If we want to eliminate the rich, then it is necessary to increase taxes.  But the number of poor people will not decrease.  On the contrary, it will increase until the entire population turns poor.  This is the path chosen by the former Democratic (now the Socialistic) Party of America.  The Soviet Union, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and many other countries have already gone down this path.

There is another way.  Four generations of Americans have heard nothing about alternative solutions, as they suffer from “tax amnesia.”  To many, this idea may seem revolutionary and even crazy.

How about leaving the rich alone and “eliminating” the poor?

Dr. Gary Gindler, Ph.D. is a conservative Russian-American blogger at Gary Gindler Chronicles.

Trump’s tax plan was enthusiastically accepted by the Republicans and got rejected by the Democrats.  No surprises; the tug of the tax rope is a favorite public activity in Washington.

Trump’s plan is a financial knockdown for states such as California, New York, and New Jersey.  These states have a traditional Democrat majority, and consequently, these states have the highest tax rates in the U.S.  According to Trump’s plan, the payment of these taxes will not be considered when calculating federal taxes.  Americans will have to pay taxes to the states in addition to, not instead of, the federal tax.  This will hit hardest, of course, in the states with the highest taxes.

These states are the bastions of leftists in the U.S. and voted against Trump.  If Trump’s plan is adopted, these states will be in a stressful financial condition.  The mass outflow of population from these states to the states with zero or small taxes (Florida, Texas) will accelerate, and the tax base of leftists will definitely decrease.

The long-term tax legacy in America is as such: the second and third items of the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx – the progressive tax and the inheritance tax – are fully and legally implemented.

Trump’s plan leaves the second item of the Communist Manifesto intact (a progressive tax with some modifications) but terminates the third item – the tax on inheritance.

Even now, few people think about why the tax rate in America is progressive – the more you earn, the higher the tax rate.  Progressive taxes have been around since ancient times, but only the Marxists thought of weaponizing them and making them a tool for the political struggle.  Today we use the phrase “progressive democrats” or “progressive humanity.”  However, the term “progressive” began from the idea of a progressive tax.  It had nothing to do with technological or social progress, but only with taxes.

Progressive taxes in the U.S. have progressed only in one direction – in the direction of increasing the polarization of society.  Bill Clinton’s tax reform led to the emergence of a negative tax rate unheard of in American history.  Currently, about 40% of Americans receive money from the federal government instead of paying.

As a result, the richest 10% of Americans pay 70% of all federal income taxes.  The poorest 50% pay only three percent of all federal taxes.  On the surface, a progressive tax on the rich looks like a simple mechanism for wealth redistribution.  But in fact, the progressive tax is a mechanism of conscious corruption of the population, which is forced to turn to the state for financial help.  It eventually becomes completely dependent – materially and spiritually – on the government.

The extreme level of progressive taxation in the U.S. leads to an artificial division of the nation into two classes: those who pay taxes and those who do not pay taxes.

What for?  Divide et impera – divide and conquer – a slogan that has been tested for centuries.  The slogan was inherited by the Washington senators from the senators of ancient Rome.  The slogan enables Washington to force two groups of Americans to fight each other. 

These two artificial groups of Americans are separated by a common Congress.

The idea of the inheritance tax is also borrowed by the “progressive” from ancient Rome.  Emperor Augustus introduced this tax to pay pensions to his soldiers.  Only the emperor could think of such a thing – to declare the property of a deceased Roman as the property of the state, but with the proviso that the relatives of the deceased can get it back by paying a new tax.  As in ancient Rome, today no one calls this tax anything other than a state racket.  It is not surprising that Marxists like this tax.

High taxes are also a form of a political state racket.

Politicians in all countries prefer high tax rates to gradually selling out to lobbyists the “exceptions to the rules” and create loopholes in tax legislation for companies or for entire industries.  As a result, in the U.S., there are almost no companies who pay a predatory 35% tax on profits.  The effective tax rate for most companies is much lower – about 20%.  It is the 20% tax on companies’ profits that is contained in Trump’s tax plan, which in addition to the lower tax rate eliminates all loopholes without exception.  The Trump concept leaves, of course, the Washington political election campaigns without its main source of corrupt financing.

This, in fact, is Trump’s strategic tax plan.  His plan eliminates one of the most odious and Marxist-favored taxes: the inheritance tax.  It leaves the progressive personal income tax to the delight of Marxist “progressive humanity.”  In return, it demands significantly lower corporate tax.

Trump’s plan is unlikely to radically improve the tax burden for most American citizens, but it will substantially revitalize the American economy and make it aggressively competitive on the global market.  The complete abolition of the tax loopholes will shrink the army of lobbyists and tax lawyers.  There is nothing catastrophic in this.  Taxes were lowered by Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush.  Each and every time, the American economy stood to win.

The progressive income tax has existed in our country for more than 100 years.  There is no one alive today who remembers what America was like without an income tax.  Four generations of Americans have grown up in the conditions of progressive taxation, and they do not even realize that the tax burden can be different.

The lie is that “the rich should bear the main burden of taxes.”

The truth is in Reagan’s wise words: “If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it.”

Increasing the tax on the rich means closing businesses and mass layoffs.  On the other hand, reducing the tax on the rich means increasing investment in production; reducing unemployment; increasing the tax base; and, as a result, increasing tax revenues.

What does America want?

If we want to eliminate the rich, then it is necessary to increase taxes.  But the number of poor people will not decrease.  On the contrary, it will increase until the entire population turns poor.  This is the path chosen by the former Democratic (now the Socialistic) Party of America.  The Soviet Union, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and many other countries have already gone down this path.

There is another way.  Four generations of Americans have heard nothing about alternative solutions, as they suffer from “tax amnesia.”  To many, this idea may seem revolutionary and even crazy.

How about leaving the rich alone and “eliminating” the poor?

Dr. Gary Gindler, Ph.D. is a conservative Russian-American blogger at Gary Gindler Chronicles.



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On the Cowardice of 'Brave' Stances


Do you remember 2004?  That was when John Kerry suffered a massive blow in the press because of what happened when he was serving in Vietnam.  In a nation full of men and women who avoid military service entirely, one would normally not hold a man’s service against him.  But Kerry built a career on claims about his courage in war.  When a host of his former comrades came forward and said he hadn’t been the gutsy warrior he claimed – in fact, he may have misrepresented his actions to get awards – his reputation suffered.  Some would argue that the “swift boat” campaign cost him the office of presidency.

To this day, liberals call it “swift-boating” when people propagandize (in liberals’ minds, unfairly) against an individual.  They forget that in 2004, the campaign controversy about the candidates’ valor began earlier, when Michael Moore produced Fahrenheit 9/11 and stirred gossip that George W. Bush had acted indecorously during his service in the Air National Guard.

Now, the issue of “bravery” is more rhetorical.  One must note with some regret that the John Kerry syndrome has taken hold of people on the conservative side of the dial.  October 7, 2017 marked one year from the disastrous breaking of a “scandal” about Donald J. Trump and Access Hollywood.  In the flap that followed, a host of conservatives cast each other as “brave” for standing up to Trump and calling him out for immoral conduct toward women – at a time when all the polls were predicting a massive Trump loss and virtually the entire media, academy, and religious leadership were condemning Trump in a deafening chorus.

This was the first of four faux bravery events, all in one year.  Let’s take a look at them:

Bravely Insulting Trump

Paul Bond wrote in the Hollywood Reporter on October 7, 2016, “Conservatives (Mostly) Condemn Donald Trump after Lewd Recording Surfaces.”  Hugh Hewitt and Carly Fiorina, standing up to mean hordes of pro-Trump oppressors, joined other conservatives in calling for Trump to step down and allow Mike Pence to run as president.  Bond rattled off a list of casualties: “Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will not vote Republican for the first time since 1983. John McCain also formally withdraws his support for Trump’s candidacy.”

Condoleezza Rice also joined the fray:

Condoleezza Rice wrote on Facebook that she thinks Trump should drop out of the race. “Enough! Donald Trump should not be President,” she says in the post. “He should withdraw. As a Republican, I hope to support someone who has the dignity and stature to run for the highest office in the greatest democracy on earth.”

A long list of people came forward, ranging from Kelly Ayotte to John Thune, to say they would explicitly not be voting for Donald J. Trump because of Trump’s remarks in 2005 about touching women.  Russell Moore gave an interview to Ana Marie Cox in New York Times Magazine, published on October 12, 2016, explaining why he would vote for neither Donald J. Trump nor Hillary Clinton.

In many media corners, people praised the independent thinking and courage of those attacking someone whom literally everyone on every side of the political spectrum was attacking.  Lost in the maelstrom were some key points.  The tape was eleven years old.  Trump described touching women’s genitals when they let him.  Trump quickly stated that the conversation was wrong, it reflected nothing he had done in real life, and he was sorry for having made those remarks.  The ethical dilemma of assassinating someone’s character based on a hidden recording of his private conversation also seemed not to worry any of these “brave” people.

Bravely Destroying the Career of a Gay Sexual Abuse Victim

The thousands of famous gutsy people standing up to the twelve of us who defended Trump in the public square in October 2016 would find more opportunities to showcase their bravery four and a half months later.  After Trump shocked the world and won the election that all his detractors had sworn he was bound to lose, America went into meltdown.  Liberals went insane with hats evoking female genitalia, riots in Berkeley, and embarrassing nervous breakdowns on every major news outlet.  At the center of the whirlwind appeared Milo Yiannopoulos, the British provocateur who’d been jumping from campus to campus facing down mobs of hateful liberals.  It was his scheduled appearance that set off the most closely watched uprisings in Berkeley.

But then Milo suddenly became persona non grata because audio from a year earlier revealed that he joked about his having been sexually abused by a priest as a young teenager.  As I pointed out in a podcast with other people familiar with the gay community, the initiation of pubescent boys into sex by older men is so common in the LGBT world that it’s ridiculous to get incensed about it unless you are willing to stand against homosexuality itself (as I and my cohort do).  It is common among sex abuse victims for the victim to remain scarred for life, often expressing contradictory feelings about his own abuse because he copes by rewriting the event and casting himself as far more powerful than he actually was.  Milo seemed to acknowledge this conundrum and went public with statements clearly denouncing any form of sexual behavior with a minor.  He had never claimed that as an adult he had engaged in sodomy with boys, nor did anyone present any evidence hinting that he had.

And yet the “brave” denunciations of Milo rolled in.  He lost his book deal with Simon & Schuster, his speaking gig at CPAC, and his job at Breitbart within twenty-four hours.  Lots of people who’d shown stunning courage in bashing Trump now lined up to bash Milo: David French, Erick Erickson, and a host of others.  In a repeat of the Access Hollywood controversy, anti-Milo articles spurred comments commending those conservatives who were brave enough to stand up and finally do the right thing: destroy a man’s career not because he said feminism was cancer or wanted to launch a scholarship for white males, but because he discussed his own past as a sexual abuse victim in the wrong way.  Because if anything requires courage, it’s saying you think it’s wrong to sodomize children.  And no act is more courageous than condemning someone being condemned in every imaginable corner of the universe.

Bravely Hating Nazis

The march of courage continued six months after Milo’s fall from grace, when dueling rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia ended with a woman run over and killed by a white male driver believed to have neo-Nazi sympathies.  Trump was not at the rally, and it was not a rally for Trump.  Trump condemned racism, as he had many times previously.  But press coverage moved rapidly from the issue of people who’d rallied around a Robert E. Lee statue to Trump, Trump, Trump.

A host of conservatives showed their fearless sides by jumping into the media fray and saying that white supremacy, Nazis, racism, and the murder of innocent people are wrong.  They also showed no hesitation in stating that Trump was wrong for not demonstrating a vigorous enough hatred of white supremacy, Nazis, racism, and the murder of innocent liberals.  The Los Angeles Times reported on August 15, 2017 that Evan McMullin, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan all stood up to the scary plague of racism sweeping over America.  Sen. Orrin Hatch reminded us that his brother died fighting Hitler.  Sen. Todd Young came forward to say we should not “encourage” or “embolden” groups of white racists who drive cars over innocent liberal protesters.

Again, the comments swirling on the internet cheered these ostensible acts of defiance by people standing up to something that virtually nobody endorses, not even the people who gathered in Charlottesville around the Robert E. Lee statue.  To the end, the people who gathered for the right-wing rally denied that they hated other races or wanted to harm them.  With the entire media united against Trump, the courage it took to make a tragedy about Trump was minimal, and it cost people nothing to condemn Nazis, who’d been defeated 70 years earlier, or white supremacy, which not even alleged white supremacists seemed to defend.

Bravely Calling Hugh Hefner a Creep

In Act IV of America’s March to Bravery, we have courageous conservatives standing up to the corpse of a ninety-one-year-old man.  On September 27, 2017, Hugh Hefner died of natural causes, some 64 years after launching Playboy.  Naturally, conservatives came out of the woodwork to do what is appropriate and respectful when someone dies – they ignored every positive thing a person could note about Hugh Hefner (including his position on racial civil rights at a time when that really was brave) and pointed out that he was a promiscuous sleazebag.

Personally, I detest postmortem ad hominems, whether it’s British Marxists singing “Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead” about Margaret Thatcher or gay people rejoicing at Scalia’s mysterious death.  Having grown up in the LGBT community, I had to deal with lots of funerals for people who did unsavory things.  You dig deep in your memories for something nice to say about them.  In the LGBT world, you may have friends who infected their boyfriends and dozens of strangers with HIV, and then when they die of AIDS, you have to go and remember that they helped you redecorate your living room before a birthday party in 1989.  I could battle this question out with other Christians citing Bible verses, but my general view is, it’s too late to pick bones with people after they’re dead.  If you didn’t state your objections enough when they were alive, shut up.  If you did, then be satisfied with your past stances and just say nice things to the survivors.

Conservatives danced on Hugh Hefner’s grave, in some cases arguing with theological certainty that he was in Hell, in other cases pitting their nasty remarks against a supposed straw man of massive praise for Hefner.  It is true that some liberal media outlets presented rosy retrospectives on his life, but that’s what they do when people die.  Ross Douthat writes “Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner: An Honest Obituary for a Wicked American.”  The Public Discourse, to which I have contributed many times, ran a piece arguing that “it’s better to think of him as a coward.”

As with the other cases of “courage” with scare quotes, the flood of anti-Hefner diatribes would be less grating were it not for the many comments on social media by people saying how great it is that someone finally “stood up” against the imaginary hordes of people trumpeting Hefner as a hero.

There Is No Such Thing as Bravely Pleasing the Crowd

There are times when we agree with majority opinion.  There are times when the least costly and most widely accepted opinion happens to be right.  But if we treasure courage in speech and deed, there ought to be an instinct within us to step away from bandwagons, especially harsh and condemning ones.  Like John Kerry suddenly humiliated by people who remembered him as he was, we should beware performing bravery when our allies far outnumber the people we seek to combat.  And when one’s opponent is a small minority, a little bit of graciousness is good.  If you must beat up on twenty people who are hated by three hundred million, do not do so with all the venom and spittle we’d show toward a tyrant.  There’s something…well, cowardly, in that.  And dishonest.

Robert Oscar Lopez can be followed on Twitter.

Do you remember 2004?  That was when John Kerry suffered a massive blow in the press because of what happened when he was serving in Vietnam.  In a nation full of men and women who avoid military service entirely, one would normally not hold a man’s service against him.  But Kerry built a career on claims about his courage in war.  When a host of his former comrades came forward and said he hadn’t been the gutsy warrior he claimed – in fact, he may have misrepresented his actions to get awards – his reputation suffered.  Some would argue that the “swift boat” campaign cost him the office of presidency.

To this day, liberals call it “swift-boating” when people propagandize (in liberals’ minds, unfairly) against an individual.  They forget that in 2004, the campaign controversy about the candidates’ valor began earlier, when Michael Moore produced Fahrenheit 9/11 and stirred gossip that George W. Bush had acted indecorously during his service in the Air National Guard.

Now, the issue of “bravery” is more rhetorical.  One must note with some regret that the John Kerry syndrome has taken hold of people on the conservative side of the dial.  October 7, 2017 marked one year from the disastrous breaking of a “scandal” about Donald J. Trump and Access Hollywood.  In the flap that followed, a host of conservatives cast each other as “brave” for standing up to Trump and calling him out for immoral conduct toward women – at a time when all the polls were predicting a massive Trump loss and virtually the entire media, academy, and religious leadership were condemning Trump in a deafening chorus.

This was the first of four faux bravery events, all in one year.  Let’s take a look at them:

Bravely Insulting Trump

Paul Bond wrote in the Hollywood Reporter on October 7, 2016, “Conservatives (Mostly) Condemn Donald Trump after Lewd Recording Surfaces.”  Hugh Hewitt and Carly Fiorina, standing up to mean hordes of pro-Trump oppressors, joined other conservatives in calling for Trump to step down and allow Mike Pence to run as president.  Bond rattled off a list of casualties: “Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will not vote Republican for the first time since 1983. John McCain also formally withdraws his support for Trump’s candidacy.”

Condoleezza Rice also joined the fray:

Condoleezza Rice wrote on Facebook that she thinks Trump should drop out of the race. “Enough! Donald Trump should not be President,” she says in the post. “He should withdraw. As a Republican, I hope to support someone who has the dignity and stature to run for the highest office in the greatest democracy on earth.”

A long list of people came forward, ranging from Kelly Ayotte to John Thune, to say they would explicitly not be voting for Donald J. Trump because of Trump’s remarks in 2005 about touching women.  Russell Moore gave an interview to Ana Marie Cox in New York Times Magazine, published on October 12, 2016, explaining why he would vote for neither Donald J. Trump nor Hillary Clinton.

In many media corners, people praised the independent thinking and courage of those attacking someone whom literally everyone on every side of the political spectrum was attacking.  Lost in the maelstrom were some key points.  The tape was eleven years old.  Trump described touching women’s genitals when they let him.  Trump quickly stated that the conversation was wrong, it reflected nothing he had done in real life, and he was sorry for having made those remarks.  The ethical dilemma of assassinating someone’s character based on a hidden recording of his private conversation also seemed not to worry any of these “brave” people.

Bravely Destroying the Career of a Gay Sexual Abuse Victim

The thousands of famous gutsy people standing up to the twelve of us who defended Trump in the public square in October 2016 would find more opportunities to showcase their bravery four and a half months later.  After Trump shocked the world and won the election that all his detractors had sworn he was bound to lose, America went into meltdown.  Liberals went insane with hats evoking female genitalia, riots in Berkeley, and embarrassing nervous breakdowns on every major news outlet.  At the center of the whirlwind appeared Milo Yiannopoulos, the British provocateur who’d been jumping from campus to campus facing down mobs of hateful liberals.  It was his scheduled appearance that set off the most closely watched uprisings in Berkeley.

But then Milo suddenly became persona non grata because audio from a year earlier revealed that he joked about his having been sexually abused by a priest as a young teenager.  As I pointed out in a podcast with other people familiar with the gay community, the initiation of pubescent boys into sex by older men is so common in the LGBT world that it’s ridiculous to get incensed about it unless you are willing to stand against homosexuality itself (as I and my cohort do).  It is common among sex abuse victims for the victim to remain scarred for life, often expressing contradictory feelings about his own abuse because he copes by rewriting the event and casting himself as far more powerful than he actually was.  Milo seemed to acknowledge this conundrum and went public with statements clearly denouncing any form of sexual behavior with a minor.  He had never claimed that as an adult he had engaged in sodomy with boys, nor did anyone present any evidence hinting that he had.

And yet the “brave” denunciations of Milo rolled in.  He lost his book deal with Simon & Schuster, his speaking gig at CPAC, and his job at Breitbart within twenty-four hours.  Lots of people who’d shown stunning courage in bashing Trump now lined up to bash Milo: David French, Erick Erickson, and a host of others.  In a repeat of the Access Hollywood controversy, anti-Milo articles spurred comments commending those conservatives who were brave enough to stand up and finally do the right thing: destroy a man’s career not because he said feminism was cancer or wanted to launch a scholarship for white males, but because he discussed his own past as a sexual abuse victim in the wrong way.  Because if anything requires courage, it’s saying you think it’s wrong to sodomize children.  And no act is more courageous than condemning someone being condemned in every imaginable corner of the universe.

Bravely Hating Nazis

The march of courage continued six months after Milo’s fall from grace, when dueling rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia ended with a woman run over and killed by a white male driver believed to have neo-Nazi sympathies.  Trump was not at the rally, and it was not a rally for Trump.  Trump condemned racism, as he had many times previously.  But press coverage moved rapidly from the issue of people who’d rallied around a Robert E. Lee statue to Trump, Trump, Trump.

A host of conservatives showed their fearless sides by jumping into the media fray and saying that white supremacy, Nazis, racism, and the murder of innocent people are wrong.  They also showed no hesitation in stating that Trump was wrong for not demonstrating a vigorous enough hatred of white supremacy, Nazis, racism, and the murder of innocent liberals.  The Los Angeles Times reported on August 15, 2017 that Evan McMullin, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan all stood up to the scary plague of racism sweeping over America.  Sen. Orrin Hatch reminded us that his brother died fighting Hitler.  Sen. Todd Young came forward to say we should not “encourage” or “embolden” groups of white racists who drive cars over innocent liberal protesters.

Again, the comments swirling on the internet cheered these ostensible acts of defiance by people standing up to something that virtually nobody endorses, not even the people who gathered in Charlottesville around the Robert E. Lee statue.  To the end, the people who gathered for the right-wing rally denied that they hated other races or wanted to harm them.  With the entire media united against Trump, the courage it took to make a tragedy about Trump was minimal, and it cost people nothing to condemn Nazis, who’d been defeated 70 years earlier, or white supremacy, which not even alleged white supremacists seemed to defend.

Bravely Calling Hugh Hefner a Creep

In Act IV of America’s March to Bravery, we have courageous conservatives standing up to the corpse of a ninety-one-year-old man.  On September 27, 2017, Hugh Hefner died of natural causes, some 64 years after launching Playboy.  Naturally, conservatives came out of the woodwork to do what is appropriate and respectful when someone dies – they ignored every positive thing a person could note about Hugh Hefner (including his position on racial civil rights at a time when that really was brave) and pointed out that he was a promiscuous sleazebag.

Personally, I detest postmortem ad hominems, whether it’s British Marxists singing “Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead” about Margaret Thatcher or gay people rejoicing at Scalia’s mysterious death.  Having grown up in the LGBT community, I had to deal with lots of funerals for people who did unsavory things.  You dig deep in your memories for something nice to say about them.  In the LGBT world, you may have friends who infected their boyfriends and dozens of strangers with HIV, and then when they die of AIDS, you have to go and remember that they helped you redecorate your living room before a birthday party in 1989.  I could battle this question out with other Christians citing Bible verses, but my general view is, it’s too late to pick bones with people after they’re dead.  If you didn’t state your objections enough when they were alive, shut up.  If you did, then be satisfied with your past stances and just say nice things to the survivors.

Conservatives danced on Hugh Hefner’s grave, in some cases arguing with theological certainty that he was in Hell, in other cases pitting their nasty remarks against a supposed straw man of massive praise for Hefner.  It is true that some liberal media outlets presented rosy retrospectives on his life, but that’s what they do when people die.  Ross Douthat writes “Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner: An Honest Obituary for a Wicked American.”  The Public Discourse, to which I have contributed many times, ran a piece arguing that “it’s better to think of him as a coward.”

As with the other cases of “courage” with scare quotes, the flood of anti-Hefner diatribes would be less grating were it not for the many comments on social media by people saying how great it is that someone finally “stood up” against the imaginary hordes of people trumpeting Hefner as a hero.

There Is No Such Thing as Bravely Pleasing the Crowd

There are times when we agree with majority opinion.  There are times when the least costly and most widely accepted opinion happens to be right.  But if we treasure courage in speech and deed, there ought to be an instinct within us to step away from bandwagons, especially harsh and condemning ones.  Like John Kerry suddenly humiliated by people who remembered him as he was, we should beware performing bravery when our allies far outnumber the people we seek to combat.  And when one’s opponent is a small minority, a little bit of graciousness is good.  If you must beat up on twenty people who are hated by three hundred million, do not do so with all the venom and spittle we’d show toward a tyrant.  There’s something…well, cowardly, in that.  And dishonest.

Robert Oscar Lopez can be followed on Twitter.



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The Three Legs of Western Culture and the Time We Live In


In his reflection on Michael Novak’s 1980’s The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, in the October issue of First Things, R.R. Reno recalls the three mutually-supporting legs upon which Novak held Western culture to stand, but argues that culture no longer supports these legs.  The first two legs–a free economy and liberal democratic political institutions are especially mutually supporting, in that both seek to limit the power of the state, thereby liberating “…the energies of individuals and independently organized communities.”  The third, a Judeo-Christian moral ecology is also reinforcing, in that it “…prizes human dignity, and encourages self-discipline, social trust, and individual initiative,” with both religions based on “Greco-Roman philosophy, law, and civic management.” 

But, Reno argues that the mutual support of these the three legs critically depended upon an historical epoch that may now be passing away.  Ironically, that is the era of the less constrained and unitary 1960s, for which Novak believed “liberation from constraint,” represented spiritual liberation.  Spontaneity and creativity were characteristics of that era.

Reno believes that globalization has weakened the spontaneity and creativity that sprang from “…a multiplicity of motives, incentives, presuppositions, and purposes.”  A free market society provided “order without authority and purposeful freedom without the need for agreement about the common good, beyond the procedural rule of law.”  By contributing to globalization, however, that “birth of freedom” of the 1960s has come to undermine both democratic institutions and a Judeo-Christian moral culture.  In a way, freedom has come to undermine itself. 

Freedom from constraint allowed capitalism to become global in scope, and to undermine the authority of both democratic institutions and religious-based moral authority.  As a result, democracies of the many have turned into the oligarchies of the few.  While Republicans believe entrepreneurial pragmatism the best solution for all problems, Democrats believe technocratic management the best.  But, elites of both parties share antipathy towards the common person, thus explaining the election victory of the “outsider” Donald Trump against the consummate insider, Hillary Clinton.

Those who successfully participate in the endeavor of globalization acquire economic advantages over non-participants or those who participate unsuccessfully.  So, domestic economic elites become either traditional oligarchies or rules-based oligarchies, neither of which is good for democratic institutions.  The former tends to suborn those institutions, while the latter supersedes them.  In either case, traditional mediating institutions tend to be cut out of substantive decision-making.  And, as the elites have little interest in traditional religious values, traditional religious faith is ridiculed and undermined.  The years of strong political and social integration immediately post-World War II made this fracturing of society difficult to forecast.

The undermining of religious faith is especially important, as religious faith provides a sense of permanence, of transcendence from God to our families, communities, and other things of meaning in our lives.  Ironically, the openness, dynamism, and creativity of modern global capitalism undermine the very things of most value to us.  Our very freedom has undermined our fundamental need for permanence, and that loss of a sense of permanence has, in turn contributed to undermining free markets and democratic institutions. 

The propensity for societies to decline as a result of technocrats and an endless striving for money and commerce is not new, having been first articulated by one of the three great British empiricists, Bishop Lord George Berkley (1685-1793) and his theory of immaterialism, that matter does not exist and that the world is comprised entirely of a collection of ideas, (section 4 and section 6).  Berkley believed that there are only finite mental substances and an infinite mental substance, namely, God.   Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) also popularized the notion the periods of history characterized by rules and run by technocrats are ones of decline, while those characterized by the “will to power” are ones of creativity and cultural growth because they break the bounds of conformity and provide that sense of permanence the human soul desires.  And which in our post-modern era seems to be diminishing.

Cultures progress by how much they promote individual autonomy and purpose.  The historian Oswald Spengler noted in the early 1900s that during the previous 1,100 years of “Faustian” culture, the human soul overflowed “…with expansive, disruptive, and imaginative impulses manifested in all the spheres of life.”  Spengler saw the Faustian soul as “…overcoming of presence…whose yearning is infinity.”  Too much cultural reliance on the reasoning and desiring parts of the soul, as many argue is the case with globalization, limits realization of  a third part of the soul that Plato described as “spiritedness.”  Spiritedness is the source of religion and desire for some sense of eternal recognition which provides a sense of permanence.   Too much reliance on reason and desire tend to constrain this “spiritedness,” and it is this decline in spiritedness in our free economy and democratic institutions that Reno is getting at.   

In his reflection on Michael Novak’s 1980’s The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, in the October issue of First Things, R.R. Reno recalls the three mutually-supporting legs upon which Novak held Western culture to stand, but argues that culture no longer supports these legs.  The first two legs–a free economy and liberal democratic political institutions are especially mutually supporting, in that both seek to limit the power of the state, thereby liberating “…the energies of individuals and independently organized communities.”  The third, a Judeo-Christian moral ecology is also reinforcing, in that it “…prizes human dignity, and encourages self-discipline, social trust, and individual initiative,” with both religions based on “Greco-Roman philosophy, law, and civic management.” 

But, Reno argues that the mutual support of these the three legs critically depended upon an historical epoch that may now be passing away.  Ironically, that is the era of the less constrained and unitary 1960s, for which Novak believed “liberation from constraint,” represented spiritual liberation.  Spontaneity and creativity were characteristics of that era.

Reno believes that globalization has weakened the spontaneity and creativity that sprang from “…a multiplicity of motives, incentives, presuppositions, and purposes.”  A free market society provided “order without authority and purposeful freedom without the need for agreement about the common good, beyond the procedural rule of law.”  By contributing to globalization, however, that “birth of freedom” of the 1960s has come to undermine both democratic institutions and a Judeo-Christian moral culture.  In a way, freedom has come to undermine itself. 

Freedom from constraint allowed capitalism to become global in scope, and to undermine the authority of both democratic institutions and religious-based moral authority.  As a result, democracies of the many have turned into the oligarchies of the few.  While Republicans believe entrepreneurial pragmatism the best solution for all problems, Democrats believe technocratic management the best.  But, elites of both parties share antipathy towards the common person, thus explaining the election victory of the “outsider” Donald Trump against the consummate insider, Hillary Clinton.

Those who successfully participate in the endeavor of globalization acquire economic advantages over non-participants or those who participate unsuccessfully.  So, domestic economic elites become either traditional oligarchies or rules-based oligarchies, neither of which is good for democratic institutions.  The former tends to suborn those institutions, while the latter supersedes them.  In either case, traditional mediating institutions tend to be cut out of substantive decision-making.  And, as the elites have little interest in traditional religious values, traditional religious faith is ridiculed and undermined.  The years of strong political and social integration immediately post-World War II made this fracturing of society difficult to forecast.

The undermining of religious faith is especially important, as religious faith provides a sense of permanence, of transcendence from God to our families, communities, and other things of meaning in our lives.  Ironically, the openness, dynamism, and creativity of modern global capitalism undermine the very things of most value to us.  Our very freedom has undermined our fundamental need for permanence, and that loss of a sense of permanence has, in turn contributed to undermining free markets and democratic institutions. 

The propensity for societies to decline as a result of technocrats and an endless striving for money and commerce is not new, having been first articulated by one of the three great British empiricists, Bishop Lord George Berkley (1685-1793) and his theory of immaterialism, that matter does not exist and that the world is comprised entirely of a collection of ideas, (section 4 and section 6).  Berkley believed that there are only finite mental substances and an infinite mental substance, namely, God.   Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) also popularized the notion the periods of history characterized by rules and run by technocrats are ones of decline, while those characterized by the “will to power” are ones of creativity and cultural growth because they break the bounds of conformity and provide that sense of permanence the human soul desires.  And which in our post-modern era seems to be diminishing.

Cultures progress by how much they promote individual autonomy and purpose.  The historian Oswald Spengler noted in the early 1900s that during the previous 1,100 years of “Faustian” culture, the human soul overflowed “…with expansive, disruptive, and imaginative impulses manifested in all the spheres of life.”  Spengler saw the Faustian soul as “…overcoming of presence…whose yearning is infinity.”  Too much cultural reliance on the reasoning and desiring parts of the soul, as many argue is the case with globalization, limits realization of  a third part of the soul that Plato described as “spiritedness.”  Spiritedness is the source of religion and desire for some sense of eternal recognition which provides a sense of permanence.   Too much reliance on reason and desire tend to constrain this “spiritedness,” and it is this decline in spiritedness in our free economy and democratic institutions that Reno is getting at.   



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